Even in the post COVID19 world, virtual STEM summer schools would play an important role. Here we discuss some of the advantages of conducting these camps virtually.
Summer Schools and their Benefits
In this connected era, more and more parents, teachers, schools as well as young students all over the world are realising the pros of attending a high-quality summer programme in both the US and the UK. But there are still several who are often unaware of the incredible benefits of these programmes and end up being at a major disadvantage when compared to their peers.
The benefits of attending a summer school of any kind are across-the-board for school-going students. There are not only academic but also several social and cultural benefits associated with attending a good summer camp.
STEM has been extremely prevalent in our lives in recent times and that is only set to grow at an exponential pace. Therefore, it is a no-brainer that the best kinds of summer camps for teenage students are the ones that involve, in some capacity, activities involving STEM learning.
The year 2020 has been a dark one in more ways than not. But on the bright side, we have understood our dependence on technology and realised its importance. Innovative technologies have played a very important role in keeping the world going even as a deadly pandemic ravaged all over. A number of schools, universities, offices, and businesses were able to survive by conducting their affairs virtually, none of which would have been possible if not for the advances and innovations in STEM.
As everything shifted virtual, so did several science summer schools all over the world. While these virtual summer camps cannot provide a hands-on experience and also lack the advantages of traditional classroom learning, they offer a specific set of benefits unique to them, which make them a compelling proposition, even as the world goes back to normal.
What do STEM Summer Schools Offer?
But before we discuss these advantages of virtual summer schools, we must first understand the benefits they offer in the traditional setting. So, the following is a list of the important features offered by a high-quality international STEM summer programme.
1. An adventurous joyride
STEM summer camps are well known for the opportunity they offer students to explore a STEM domain of their choice through the eyes of a scientist. So, by participating in a summer programme, they will not only get to explore a variety of STEM domains that might interest them but also learn to see and appreciate things with a new perspective, all in a fun-filled environment.
2. Develop a social understanding
With large international participation, students learn about each other's culture, religion, education, politics, and general thinking by enrolling in summer schools. They learn to challenge one another in a healthy and supportive setting, which helps break down social barriers and makes the world around them more relevant. Finally, they also get to make friendships with like-minded students, some of which last a lifetime.
3. Develop necessary skills
STEM summer programmes offer application-based learning by exposing the students to real-world problems and encouraging them to figure out innovative ways to solve them. Qualified professionals not only teach students the necessary academic skills, but also leadership skills, public speaking, critical and creative thinking, to name a few.
4. Get an edge over others
With university admissions getting more competitive by the year, the best way to stand out among the crowd is by spending the summer break learning something new. Spending the summer learning and engaging in STEM activities identifies to the admissions team the student's eagerness to learn and stand out from their peers. Science summer school students also gain several skills that can benefit them during an admissions interview.
Advantages of Virtual STEM Summer Schools
Now that we have established the tremendous benefits that STEM summer camps offer, we move ahead to discuss why complete or partial virtualisation of these programmes stands to benefit us greatly. Not just during these pandemic times, but also in the post-COVID19 era, there is a need for virtual summer schools. Some of the advantages of virtual STEM summer camps are discussed below:
1. A global and diverse participation
One major advantage of virtual STEM summits is that they can attract students from all over the world. With the physical and economical barrier of travel completely out of the way, students can learn from the best STEM camps right from the comfort of their homes. Virtualization also allows significantly greater diversity and inclusion by enabling underserved, under-represented, at-risk as well as special needs students to partake in these learning experiences.
2. Expanded scope of learning
Through virtual summer schools, it is easier to coordinate and organise lectures and learning sessions from prominent educators anywhere in the world. While this would not have been possible in the past due to physical restraints, schools are no longer limited by logistics like space or transportation, thus, allowing a myriad of new methods of teaching and the possibility for unprecedented levels of collaboration.
3. New avenues to explore
While in the past students could only participate in one camp during an entire summer, virtual summer schools can enable them to enrol in multiple at the same time. Students can explore different STEM subjects by attending different schools of their choice. Most online summer programmes offer pre-recorded lectures, interactive learning platforms, and 24-hour chat support.
Setting up summer camps online requires much less space, equipment as well as preparations. This allows these camps to be significantly cheaper than their classroom-based counterparts, aiding students from the lower economic classes to participate as well. They are also saved the costs of travel and they need not even purchase study materials as all of it is made available online.
The COVID19 pandemic has taught us that we must be prepared for more such outbreaks in the future. STEM has played a significant role in protecting us against the deadly virus and would continue to be essential to prepare us for the future. STEM aided in readily virtualising all affairs including STEM summer schools. Even after the world returns to normal, these virtual events serve an important agenda and therefore, will continue to thrive in the future.
I am Richard Myhill, CEO, London International Youth Science Forum, provides students with a deeper insight into science (STEM). We strive to empower young people from all backgrounds to pursue their potential in STEM Education.